When I mentioned to friends that my next trip was to Egypt, more often than not conversation somehow always turns to the uncomfortable feeling most westerners get with the way Middle Eastern women dress. Having lived for many years in Saudi Arabia, I always wondered whether I may be slightly biased in my acceptance of it. I’ve grown up surrounded by women in black abayas, in beautifully draped headscarves, some with veils across their faces… was growing up with it as the norm the reason I don’t understand their perception of them?

I’ve been thinking a lot about women’s rights over the last few weeks and I’ve realised that no, I’m not biased at all. I am simply in a position of better understanding. I don’t mean that in a patronising way, but simply that as a Muslim myself I have had insight alongside my life experience, so I thought maybe it was time I tried to dispel a few myths.


Modesty in Islam

Before we get cracking I want you first of all to push aside any preconceptions you may have regarding your opinion on certain countries, cultures or governments – what I am going to talk about here is the practice of modesty in Islam. And in its essence it’s really, really simple.

The book of Islam, the Qur’an, has written:

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their chests and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers…” [continuing list of others whom women are exempt from covering] Qur’an 24:30-31

I think the first thing to note here is that the mention of modesty applies to both men and women. There is nothing in this quote, or anywhere else for that matter that is implying in any way that women are to dress differently because they are the lesser sex. Because they are inferior. It’s nothing to do with them being pushed aside, being told to stay home or to be kept in the dark. In fact if you study the history of Islam there are many, many strong independent women who play crucial roles in the times of our sacred Prophet (Pbuh). In fact many of the women in his life were active members of the community and modesty was never confused with disappearing from the social, political, economic or even military departments.

All over the world there are millions of Muslim women who have made a conscious decision to dress modestly, not for their culture, not for a man, but for themselves. To feel closer to God. Many of these women have managed to excel professionally in many fields of work, whilst upholding their values of modesty. There are thousands of women in the UK alone who choose to wear headscarves and this number grows every day, women who are wanting to show their devotion to God and for some its as much an outwardly expression of their faith as it is an inner.

Now i’m not a religious scholar so I’m not going to go into the details of what modest dress entails and what its requirements are, because these are interpreted differently depending on the adherents school of thought. But the main point to note, is that modesty is something that is down to the individual. It is not something Muslims do for others – it is something Muslims should do for themselves.


A woman’s right to modesty

These days modest dressing is increasing in popularity, and not just for Muslims. In some instances modest dressing has become a way to empower women, a way of ensuring they are known for who they are, to not be judged by their beauty or how they look. In some cases its a tool to help them be taken seriously, a show of level pegging and a way of demanding respect. I’m not saying that not dressing modestly does the opposite of these things, but merely pointing out reasons why women I know who are not followers of Islam choose to cover their bodies. Their reasons for wanting to dress modestly are just as valid and just as powerful as women who choose not to.

‘Modest fashion’ is a growing market, it’s become increasingly popular over the last few years, with many female Muslim icons leading the way, such as Blogosphere cover girl Dina Tokio. Last year I attended the very first London Modest Fashion Week at the Saatchi Gallery, organised by Haute Elan – a great success and an event attended not just by Muslim women.



Some women interpret modesty not as a way of dressing, but as a way of conducting their mannerisms. Let’s not forget modesty is a character trait, one that is considered flattering and again not just exclusively for women. It’s a principle of being unassuming and moderate, but not invisible.

There are times when it’s an issue of self consciousness, what if a women does not want to show her body? What then? Do we automatically assume she is being forced to cover? What if it’s a fashion statement? With an intense spotlight cast onto our gender the reasons women choose to dress modestly are vast.


Respecting cultures and traditions

Because of the so-called ‘freedoms’ most of us believe we have in the West, it’s very easy for us to judge other places where the rules of what is and isn’t socially acceptable aren’t what we’re used to. But to put it quite bluntly, we cannot apply the principles of western european secularism to other countries whose entire cultural tradition is completely different. It’s simply not a fair comparison. And even where secularism is prevalent, there are still unwritten rules and expectations as to how women should dress themselves, when going for a night out for example.

If we aren’t citizens of a particular country who may expect modest dressing, then yes have an opinion, discuss your grievances but it’s not our place to be making a stand against their rules and regulations because we don’t feel it’s right. There are proper avenues to vocalise dissenting opinion and I encourage everyone to look into local organisations and groups that can help support causes where you feel women, or anyone else for that matter, are being oppressed or discriminated against because of an imposed dress code.

However as visitors to a country where the customs are to dress in a certain way, out of respect for the citizens it is our duty to comply. This is purely an issue of common human decency and respect.

Take Indonesia for example, a Muslim country where there is no dress code but there are many beautiful women of all ages who choose to wear hijabs and cloaks. They’re different to those in the middle east, known as jilbabs but nevertheless they do the same job. What they wear doesn’t stop them being who they want to be. They’ll still be all over facebook, they’ll still want to take and share selfies, they still find ways to demonstrate their individuality, it doesn’t stop them being themselves. I even noticed it here in Egypt, I watched a group of young girls some with bejewelled burqas, others in jeans and tshirts with long hair left loose and perfectly styled, dancing along the banks of the Nile, laughing, playing and having just the best time together.

In 2015 a story hit the headlines about a group of backpackers who stripped naked atop a Malaysian mountain, going against the requests of their guide not to do so. I remember feeling incredibly sad for the local communities there, who held this site as sacred and probably felt they were being mocked, what an offensive way to treat your hosts. I’ve heard all the arguments for their cause, but the bottom line is there was a specific requirement to wear clothing and this was purposely disobeyed for no other reason than entertainment. To be quite honest, I can’t understand why individuals would go out of their way to upset others just because they believe in something you don’t. I’ve previously discussed how the ultimate definition of specifically targeting someone with intention to hurt them, either physically or emotionally is in fact an act of terrorism.


The concept of freedom of choice.

Ah yes, freedom of choice. Before you assume that I am naive in my outlook on the world, I one hundred percent acknowledge that there are countries where women are not given the right to choose what they wear out in public. And I mentioned above that there are organisations and local groups around that you can speak to regarding helping to change these issues, only if change is necessary of course.

My whole reason for writing this post is to bring to light that although many, many westerners choose to judge and criticise these countries on their treatment of women, if they look upon Muslim women in their own countries they are treating them with the same level of disrespect. Banning headscarves in public buildings, schools, bullying those who wear them, outlawing burkinis (modest swimwear – basically a wetsuit) on beaches and at swimming pools.

I’m often faced with the ironic argument that we are not an Islamic country, we are Christian, yet there are members of the Christian faith who also cover their hair and where modest dress, orthodox, coptic, nuns? Some jewish women also follow certain criteria for dressing – again that includes hair covering. Sikh men wear turbans, Buddhists ask that you cover arms and legs before entering temples… and these are just a few examples of other religions who believe in the principles of modesty. Ever seen a painting of the Virgin Mary without a headscarf for example? There’s very few. Royalty are also advocates of modest dressing, they may not wear long cloaks or cover their hair but there is a certain standard of dressing they are expected to abide by as a mark of respect to the establishment they represent and it applies to both men and women.

So why has the problem of dressing modestly all of a sudden become a problem when its Muslims? When it comes to clothing, is freedom of choice here in the West purely for women who are not Muslim?

A few years ago I watched a scene unfold on the news which I never believed I would ever see. A group of armed policeman on a public beach in Nice, standing over a Muslim woman who was there with her children, modestly dressed in a long sleeve shirt and leggings being asked to remove her top. The beach was full, there were plenty of people around and the majority of them supported his decision to make this woman strip against her will. Right there with everyone watching.



I don’t care what you believe. I don’t care what you think of Muslims or any other religion for that matter. But for this woman she had chosen not to show her arms, she was being forced to strip against her will and fined too. Forget everything else you know about her. I ask you to just think as a woman, as a person, how would that have made you feel? How is that freedom of choice? Where’s the liberté and egalité in that? In this instance she wasn’t even wearing a burqa, she just happened to be wearing long sleeves, so was it the headscarf that was against the rules? It’s funny that oppression is frowned upon in a religious country but it appears secular oppression is perfectly acceptable.

Yes I am fully aware that I’ve mentioned this before, but the image of this scene is burned into my memory, as it should be with every person who believes that the West fully invests in women’s rights. The thought that this woman, a member of our global sisterhood, was put through public humiliation, bothers me deeply. And this is not an isolated incident by any stretch, there are many examples of women being forced to remove clothing and headscarves in public, I know of instances where its happened where I am in the UK.

There is plenty of discussion about the degradation of women in society, the whole Hollywood harassment fiasco and even men in politics and now charitable organisations are being pulled up on their treatment of women. So why is dressing modestly as a Muslim woman such an issue? Perhaps if we’re all completely honest, maybe it wouldn’t be, if we removed the word Muslim?? It’s very easy for us to sit here and point fingers at other countries for their so-called treatment of females but I would argue that the problems we face here are simply the other side of the same coin.


As we celebrate 100 years of women having been given the same rights of suffrage as me and all the freedoms they have fought for and won, I want to highlight that the struggle isn’t completely over until we act in the interests of ALL women, and not just when it serves a hidden political agenda.

This years International women’s day campaign is all about #PressforProgress: to not be complacent, to press forward and to progress gender parity. A strong call for us to act and be gender inclusive. I hope by defining the religious reasoning behind modest dress, by reminding us of our ability as humans to be inclusive and respectful, I have helped change the angle from which Muslim women are usually portrayed and to shed a bit of understanding on an issue which causes controversey from both sides.


I stand proudly with my sisters today and every day. Of all faiths, of all colours.

I stand with all of womankind.


Dedicated to all the strong women in my life, who have at some point been attacked either physically or verbally for the way they dress.




Travel has always been a major part of my life. Not necessarily because I’ve done a lot of it, although I know I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to embark on many trips. It has always been the ‘journey’ that has garnered my interest. The emotions, the experiences and the tales along the way. It’s why I started blogging and it’s my ultimate form of mind relaxation.

My last flight was back in July 2017, and wow, it feels like forever ago. Since then, I’ve been living vicariously through my friends and family as they travelled to places such as Dubai, Oman, Jordan, Malaga, Sri Lanka… falling in love with their photos and stories.

And now I’m finally sitting here on a plane, getting excited for a new adventure. This is it… finally our first trip of 2018!! Mo and I are headed off to enchanting Egypt. I’ve only ever visited once, my Dad and I went to Cairo, he was on a business trip and I went over to visit a dear friend, and to think that was around 20 years ago?!

I popped round to visit one of our neighbours recently, a lovely man who had actually spent a lot of his life living in Egypt and had such fond memories to tell as we sat and got to know each other better. I never got the opportunity to pop back and get some handy tips and phrases, but I’m very much looking forward to visiting him on our return and discussing if life as he knew it in Egypt had changed at all.

Our first stop… Hurghada, just for the night mind. As tomorrow we hit the road once again.

After just two days of dealing with the ‘beast from the east’ I can’t possibly describe how good it feels to be landing here…


Last year, only three of my trips away involved plane journeys, which in one sense, isn’t a bad thing. I discovered a number of new areas right here in England. But if I’m honest, hopping on a plane and taking off somewhere new is usually my preference, so I’m excited that this year I may have a few more opportunities to do just that 🙂

In less than three weeks I’ll be taking off on my first adventure of 2018!!! Still not ready to shout about the details… but what I am wanting to share are some new travel essentials I discovered over the last few months. All five of these are products are ones that I (and in some cases Mo) have used and have really impressed us. All of them are focused around helping you feel refreshed after your journey:


1. Twist & Spritz

These things are everywhere. I’ve had lots of different makes and models but the Twist & Spritz from the fragrance shop is definitely my favourite one. It’s smart, compact and it doesn’t leak at all – which is super important. There’s no need to waste time buying small bottles of perfume when you can simply take your twist & spritz and fill up your 8ml atomiser – which equates to 100 sprays! The right size for hand luggage and so easy to fill, total winner.

Twist & Spritz, £10 The Fragrance Shop


2. Bedtime Bliss Sleep Mask

Ok  I know a sleep mask isn’t revolutionary, but this one is a real winner. I’m not a fan of sleep masks, I don’t particularly like feeling pressure on my eyes. The bedtime bliss mask applies noooo pressure but still blocks out all light. ALL light. It’s light in material too, super soft.

Bedtime Bliss sleep mask, £8.90


3. No dark shadows

If there’s one thing I’m not good at it’s knowing how and when to use makeup. I can just about use it myself and always hesitant to use products on my very sensitive face, so when I first saw this concealer type stick I very much brushed it aside. It wasn’t until I took it over to my mum’s and asked her opinion that I first saw it in action. And boy was I shocked. It actually… worked? I was very confused as so many of these ‘get rid of dark shadows’ type ointments never seem to do what they say. But after seeing it on my mum, I was keen to give it a go.

So I did and I was one hundred percent impressed. What I loved about it is it simply brightens, highlights and enhances and really does steer away all that darkness. Brilliant. Super handy for anyone headed out on a long trip away. Small and compact enough to store away in hand luggage and doesn’t necessarily require the use of any makeup on top of it either.

Know Cosmetics No Dark Shadows, £15


4. Rosehip oil

A natural anti-ageing product, rosehip oil has a high content of vitamin E. This stuff is packed full of anti-oxidants, the oil is extracted from seeds without heat, solvents or chemicals guaranteeing the oils purity and quality. It’s suitable for all skin types and as well as being good for stretch marks and helping with sun burn it’s a great skin reviver apres journey. Yes this random oil makes for a great travel companion. Especially if you’re on a plane journey. Aircraft air leaves your skin feeling dehydrated, just a couple of drops of rosehip oil and it will be as good as new.

RosehipPLUS Rosehip oil, £22.50


5. Rejuvenating face mask

My most recent discovery, these Body Shop masks are AMAZING. I was given these by the Body Shop at intu Trafford Centre some time ago but only got round to trying them out last week. I was totally taken in by the Japanese Match Tea as it’s labelled as a ‘pollution clearing mask.’ Well after six months of working and walking around the city centre, I thought it was high time I tac’d my pores. Ten minutes later and I felt like a different person. I am hooked! For feeling refreshed I’d recommend the Amazonian Acai Energising Radiance mask.

So unfortunately, they don’t have travel sized versions, but you know what thats ok. It’s more economical to buy a larger pot and you literally just need to pack a small amount in a little travel pot and take it away with you. I can think of so many destinations I’ve travelled too where this would have been a nice treat. Days out in Bangkok, Jakarta, Cairo, any heavily congested city – I can imagine a quick mask before bed would contribute to a relaxing nights sleep.

Amazonian Acai Energising Radiance mask, £17.00 The Body Shop


I’ve used these products individually, collectively and they are definitely ones to keep close in hand luggage. A couple of the products above were gifted to me to trial and I can happily say that I have not been disappointed with any of them. So much so, I’ve decided to offer a £10 amazon voucher for anyone who is willing to share the benefits of these product too!

As with all my competitions, I’ll be using rafflecopter as the winner is selected at random and is free from any bias. It’s pretty easy, simply RT (or follow for a bonus entry) and you’ll be in with a chance of winning the £10 Amazon gift voucher. The competition is open NOW and you have until Friday 23rd February to enter. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Terms and conditions:

  • Last day for entry is Friday 23rd February, Winner to be announced 12:00pm Monday 26th February.
  • Winner will be selected randomly by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted by twitter direct message
  • If no response is received within a 48hr period, a new winner will be chosen.
  • There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  • The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.
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Weeks of sorting and organising thousands of photos have enabled me to discover albums of hidden gems I had almost forgotten about. With our blogger friends (Oli and David) living it large in Malaga, I can’t help but reminisce about the last trip Mo and I made to Spain over a year ago. I wrote about our weekend exploring Madrid, and then that was it. I’ve not really shared much else.

So let’s jump from the beginning… to the end!

Last stop on our 10 day Spanish road trip: Cordoba

Ahh… Cordoba.

Visits to the South of Spain are usually centred around the coastal resorts, Granada or Seville if you head west. Cordoba is still part of the Andalucia region but perhaps not top of the list on places to visit. Or at least I didn’t think so.


Where we stayed

We stayed at the Ayre Hotel, Cordoba. A decent hotel. We had a lovely room, the hotel itself seemed a bit dated (quite 80s), but it was pleasant, clean surrounded by beautiful greenery and reasonably priced, so we weren’t complaining.

We enjoyed a meal at the hotel restaurant, again nothing to write home about but it was nice. There was also an outside pool which we couldn’t wait to check out – although it took us a while to step inside as it was FREEZING. And watching people get in and out was great entertainment, all of us egging each other on to at least give it a go.


What we did

There’s quite a bit to do in Cordoba but Mo and I were slightly pressed for time. Well actually, we probably could have done more, but we did choose to spend an afternoon by the pool, sacrificing sight seeing for an afternoon of relaxation. But of course, we made sure that the one place we did visit was the beautiful Mezquita.

Truly a unique building, Mezquita is known not just as the Great mosque of Cordoba, but as a mosque-cathedral. Famous for being one of the most accomplished examples of Moorish architecture, this is one not to miss when you’re in the city.



To briefly touch on its history, a small church originally stood on the site which was apparently used as a prayer site for both Muslims and Christians (however this latter point has been debated). In 784 when Abd Al-Rahman took control of the city, the construction of the Great mosque began, and the building was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. In 1236 Cordoba returned to Christian rule and the building was then converted to a Roman Catholic Church, how it remains today.

It’s quite surreal walking through the archways and rooms, as the presence of both religions is visible. The archways themselves threw me right back to those we regularly saw in the Holy mosque in Makkah, so similar in colouring and style and in some places, material.

The most striking feature once you walk in is that of the hypostyle hall, over 800 columns made from Roman temple remains and onyx and marble and jasper I believe. The ceilings are high, the lighting varies as you walk through, the arches inspired by those from Al Aqsa mosque in the Palestinian capital, Jerusalem.



The mihrab (from where Muslim congregational prayers are led by the Imam) is absolutely stunning, full of traditional Islamic art feature such as geometric patterns, religious calligraphy, fluid patterns and lots of symmetry. For those who don’t already know, the mihrab is the part of the mosque which indicates the ‘qibla’ – the direction Muslims face when praying. The mihrab is usually a semi circular niche built into the wall, you’ll find them or variations of them, in nearly all traditional mosques.



Of course, as the mosque was converted into a cathedral, there are also a lot of Christian elements. The minaret was converted into a bell tower, which you can check out actually, the views over the city from the top are quite spectacular. And of course spend some time in the courtyard too, appreciate the scale of this heritage site and enjoy the fresh pools and orange trees that add a bit of tranquility to this popular tourist hot spot.



Aside from Mezquita, we also spent some time exploring the nooks and crannies of the city, wandering from street to street with no real plan, except to enjoy the fresh, warm air and the new environment.




What we ate

Probably the most iconic food story of our trip happened here, in Cordoba. So you may want to pay attention…

It was our final night in Spain. It had been an amazing trip, Mo and I had loved every second of our journey, even the hours spent in the car had felt like an adventure and we were quite sad to call an end to it all. But alas, the trip had to end some time, so we decided we’d see it off in style with an extra special meal out. We both put on our finest outfits. I even spent time straightening my hair, totally going above and beyond my normal holiday get up and go routine.

Our hotel was slightly outside of the city centre so we were excited at the prospect of finding a local restaurant, one that would boast authentic food, charming atmosphere, preferably some good quality tapas. We looked around on google for places nearby and we were a bit stumped, so we decided to go down and have chat with the hotel concierge. Map in hand he mentioned an area of trendy restaurant bars, popular with young professionals, where locals in the area go. That was it, that was exactly what we were after.

We hopped into the car and drove down to the location hotel concierge man had mapped out, and yes there it was, a street lined with trendy looking joints, Mo and I were excited for a lovely evening ahead. We parked up and started walking down… both of us wondering whether we should be concerned at how quiet it seemed. It was definitely dinner time? There were plenty of cars? Where were all the people?!?

A few strolls up and down we found there was only one place that seemed to be truly open for business, it looked nice, everyone around us spoke only Spanish. Looks like we hit the jackpot. We walked to the back where everyone seemed to be congregating and asked the lovely waitress for a table for two. She looked oddly at us, pointing to a few options in a gesture that sort of signified ‘take your pick.’ Being outdoor, a lot of the other tables were occupied by smokers, so we picked a place slightly away from the action.

All smiles, Mo and I were excited again. Food time! The waitress popped back asking if we wanted drinks, as she popped a bowl of peanuts in front of us. We asked to see the food menu. Again the waitress looked quizzically at us. We asked again and to our surprise we were handed a one page third of an A4 leaflet with poor lamination advertising no more than four food options (yes I’m a graphic designer so the paper quality means something to me).

Oh dear. What the heck was going on.

Trying to stay positive, we’d already made all this effort to get here we might as well just order what we can and make the most of it. So… two pizzas it was as that was literally the only thing we could actually eat on the menu. To be fair we’d had a really good baguettini style pizza before so it wouldn’t be so bad having it again. And this was a nice place so surely they can’t go wrong with a margherita.

Midway through our chat about how odd this ‘restaurant’ was Mo gasped. Eyes popping out of his head.

Mo: You’re not going to believe this
Me: What?
Mo: The waitress is making our pizza
Me: So? What’s the problem?
Mo: You need to see how she’s making it
Me: How???!?!
Mo: She has just reached into the freezer.
Me: yea?
Mo: Picked up a double pack of Dr Oetker pizza
Me: what… the….
Mo: She has taken them out of the box
Me: are you su-
Mo: And into the microwave they go.

Needless to say not long after dinner was served. We had a good laugh. It didn’t taste that bad. But boy oh boy that was one) not the fancy meal we had in mind and two) as if we just paid EIGHT Euros for a ready meal pizza!??!?!

Luckily, the next day we redeemed ourselves, determined to ensure the fine dining German chef Dr Oetker was not our final food memory of Spain. After our visit to the Mezquita, we thankfully enjoyed the meal we had been craving. Taberna La Romana – Reasonably priced, freshly-cooked (I repeat freshly-cooked) with tables looking out over the bridge to the Calahorra tower and for anyone who’s after a great gift, there’s a beautiful silver jewellery shop just next door, Joaquin Espaliu Designs.



When I grew up in Saudi Arabia, there was actually a compound named ‘Cordoba’ where a number of school friends lived. It’s quite weird thinking that back in those days I never realised Cordoba was actually a city, let alone one with such a great history and such beautiful landscapes. Our trip there was short but it was sweet and we’re glad we took the time to pass through on our way back to Madrid.

As a Muslim, the South of Spain is a truly special place, as it really is so interesting to learn and to see so clearly the influence the Ummayid leaders left behind and what part it played in shaping some of these areas.

Of course, the question we always ask, would Mo and I go back?

Definitely, there’s so much we didn’t get a chance to see: Calahorra tower, museum of fine arts and the Roman temple of Cordoba to name but a few.

However the next time we do make a trip over, we’ll be sure to do a much more comprehensive search on restaurants and fine dining beforehand. We’ll save Dr Oetker for the Aldi shop back home.




Have you been to Cordoba? What did you think?





Last Saturday, I joined a large group of bloggers from all over the country to attend what is now a regular event in my social calendar – the icelolly.com Blog at the Beach event.

No, it’s not at a beach. No, we don’t blog whilst we’re there. We basically gather at a destination, usually in Leeds and enjoy a day of networking, talks and lunch hosted by the fabulous icelolly team. In the past I’ve never really thought to blog about it, as the event is exclusively for bloggers.

But I don’t know, something kind of made me want to write about it this time around, but I’m not sure why…


Was it because of the talks?

This year we had talks from three bloggers: Bee, Kirsty and Kaye. To be honest, I didn’t know much about them. They were all great on stage: engaging, real and very honest about their advice on this crazy blogosphere we all find ourselves in. There were some inspirational quotes, some handy tips and a lot of valuable insight into how they have got themselves into the position they’re in today. There were lots of laughs too, Bee’s reaction to the mysterious missing letters in her presentation was particularly hilarious, she took the computer compatibility mishaps in her stride, it was fab.

Yes I enjoyed all three talks, but I don’t think this was my reason. I’ve heard many good talks here at Blog at the Beach in the past and I can’t think of any year that stands out as better than any others. Each one is different and special in it’s own way.



Maybe it was the company?

With the blogging community growing at mad speeds, every event these days is filled with new faces. But over the years there are a staple few who I’ve met and who I reconnect with on each visit. I was sad that I missed out on seeing the lovely Kirsten from Kookytraveller, but it was nice to catch up with Michaela, Ed and Dave in between talks.


Or perhaps it was because I come here often?

When I sat down and listened to Chief Marketing Officer, Ross, welcome us and Brand Director, Suniel, talk us briefly through where icelolly was at right now, I realised this was in fact my fourth time attending Blog at the Beach. It’s the only brand-hosted event that sits as a staple in my schedule. This was the first time I’d seen little kiddies at the event though and Ross’ fan club shouting his support at the end definitely brought a huge smile to my face, and to many others I’m sure! Was that cute show of support enough though…?



Freebies? Everyone loves a freebie…

Come on, who doesn’t? But there are no real freebies here. There’s a chance to win some great prizes, i.e city break and there were some stunning watches. But for us non-winners the freebie on offer is really their time and some grub. It was good grub though (that butternut squash bite was yuuuum, looked like an Indian sweet snack but it was savoury and delightful and if any food bloggers have a recipe for this please share it with me so I can make my sister cook it LOL)




Ok, yes there’s good food, but no that’s still not it.

I’ve been sat at my desk for the last hour racking my brain, going through every detail of the day and trying to figure out what little important detail I’ve missed…

I’ve got it.

Today, I attended a service to celebrate the life of truly inspirational man. It was a morning of sadness, tinged with a deep feeling of love, optimism and determination. As the list of accomplishments, both professional and personal flooded out, I was in awe of how this one wonderful human being had truly pushed to be the best he could be. And as I looked around at his friends and family, I realised that same character, that grit and personality was in it’s own way being passed down through the generations.

Yup thats it.

That’s why I had to write this post.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to learn over the last few years it’s that there are many different people in life. I’m not going to list them all, but I will tell you the type I have begun to surround myself with. I call them:

The Collaborators.

It’s not a new word, it’s not a sexy word either. But it’s a word that sums up this event and anyone who truly means something to me tends to fall under this title.

We don’t need to knock people down. We can compete, but don’t be afraid to lose, don’t be afraid to celebrate someone else’s win. There’s no need to be nasty. To bad mouth. To spread ill-feeling. If you have information that can help someone, why not help them!?!?

Kirsty, Bee and Kaye both got up on that stage today, probably gave away trade secrets as they passionately encouraged everyone to push their blogs to become successful. They were there to share their stories and to genuinely help others get themselves into a stronger position. I watched two bloggers who had only ever spoken online, meet, make friends and share valuable travel information needed for an upcoming trip one of them was taking next week. How amazing that we can do that?? Icelolly have created a meet up and networking opportunity that is exclusively tailored to bloggers.


Oh, now wait, I know what you’re thinking…

Clever, clever company, putting on a yearly social, calling bloggers to join them in celebrating what they do for some great exposure, channelling on our readership and audience. Well, if that’s their intention then first of all, they hide it quite well. But I assure you it’s not. Because if there’s one thing icelolly know how to do it’s collaborate.

Yes, they do get some decent reach, the #BlogAtTheBeach hashtag was trending quite nicely during the day, but hey what’s wrong with a little awareness? icelolly.com are a search comparison website, so they’re not directly selling a product. But yes, they’re trying to convince you to travel and who better to help them do that than travel bloggers? These guys know and understand that times are changing and that the voice of an honest person is better than that of a fancy brochure.

So, here they have mastered the title of ‘collaborator’ and created a day where bloggers and brand can meet, talk, brainstorm and idea-bounce, all to push each other and to help each other succeed. Using regular travellers to feedback on website user experience, on what works and what doesn’t, on what’s hot and what’s not. It’s a wonderful environment to be in.

And of course, the most important part of the day was that there’s always an element of TRAVEL talk. As a travel blogger that’s pretty important, especially as my travel game has been pretty poor over the last few months. Especially on here.

I’m pleased to say my first trip is BOOKED and I’m looking forward to another year of adventure – professionally in the day job and the blog job, and personally in the journeys I plan on undertaking.

I only hope that in years to come, when I am looking back on my achievements, they are half as good. That the people around me, are just as inspirational and that the words I’ve shared are half as meaningful as those of the magnificent man we celebrated today.




*** Thank you to the icelolly.com BlogAtTheBeach team for hosting another successful event. All pictures and opinions are mine and mine alone. And finally, I know a number of my dear friends and family are going through some tough times already this year, my prayers and love are always with you. ***